Bibliotherapy is an ancient process of creative writing/reading that promotes emotional health.

To this description I'm adding ::: Reading my own fiction out loud to an audience.

I may someday add ::: wild deployment of random punctuation as emotive graphology.

Anyhow, I felt another layer of healing happen within my soul on Friday night as I witnessed the audience's freaked-out response to Christie-the-Christian-cannibal’s well-meant shenanigans. The audience’s gasps, grossed out groans, and aagghhhhhkk’s were hilarious, soothing, satisfying {to me}. For a few moments they felt how I felt so many decades ago as they outwardly mimicked my inward fifteen-year-old horror.

I find that fictionalizing my memoir material helps me transmute my past trauma into artifacts that I can literally [pun intended] store on a shelf... not so sure the audience is helped in any way. I acknowledge that the content may disturb, hence the PsychHorror qualification.

I'd never read my own fiction aloud before Friday. My friend Sandra, a long time mental health advocate and member of Women Writing for (a) Change, invited me to read at the event and then put my name and bio on community advertisements *making it impossible for me to chicken out. As a community outreach she’d set up a mental illness related reading at Lithic, a fabulous book store and publishing company, and WOW was there a cool crowd! The readings were diverse and thought/emotion/relief provoking - at least to me.

A local nursing professor read a story about her mother's lifelong journey with bereavement from losing an infant patient, a young man slammed his experience of living with C-PTSD developed from witnessing the deliberate death of his first love, Sandra read poetry stories about being a psych patient so many years ago, and I witnessed a new [to me] form of mental health advocacy ~~~ readings for the public.

PsycHorror isn't an area I normally frequent, and I'm optimistic by nature, so it's odd that I write in the genre. I wonder if all psych/horror writers are processing life trauma /?/ because I do feel that certain writers speak to me viscera to viscera. Not comparing my writing in the remotest sense - but anyone know Stephen King? If so, will you ask him and get back to me? Same for John Irving and Quentin Tarantino. I "get" those guys.

A year ago I published a novella about a 13-yr-old girl as a fundraiser for NAMI - which it still is BTW. That little story was inspired and informed by my 13th year on the planet. Like Christie the Christian cannibal, Riccie is a facet of the younger me. Her PTSD makes her hyper competent in dark times which doesn't always turn out so well for her or the people she loves most. I wonder... If I didn't write would I be dangerous? EEK! Nah => but I'm pretty sure that I'd be nonfunctional.

Someday I hope to write about roses and butterflies and big puffy clouds. Until then... you can find me in the gruesome-creepy section.

#PS - If you want to meet Christie-the-Christian-cannibal, I recommend looking now - before I upload the most recent edited version - because it's marked down on Amazon pending edits. Yes, yes, it probably should have been perfect before I put it there in the first place... yet if I had waited I'd have chickened out. Anyways, after I re-upload, it'll go back to the original price.

Erica KitzmanComment